Sunday, June 28, 2009

2009 NFL Offseason Preview: AFC West

Over the next several weeks I will preview every division in the NFL, giving you teams who will rise in 2009, who will fall, and where each team will end up in 2009. Getting started with this week with the AFC West.

2008 Overview: The AFC West was seen as a joke to some football fans. San Diego and Denver ended the season tied for the division championship at 8-8 with San Diego winning the division due to a tie breaker. Oakland played spoiler late in the season last year, ending 2008 on a 2 game winning streak including beating Tampa Bay the last game of the season costing the Bucs a playoff spot and ultimately Jon Gruden his job but sadly finished the season 5 and 11. Oakland hasn't had a winning season since they were in the Super Bowl back in 2002. The injury plagued Chiefs had one of the worst seasons in team history, finishing 2 and 14 as Herm Edwards was shown the door and Carl Peterson resigned. San Diego was able to knock off Indianapolis before losing to eventual Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Round.

New Faces: Key Players
Denver: Kyle Orton, Chris Sims, Brian Dawkins,

Kansas City: Matt Cassell, Mike Vrabel, Zach Thomas, Mike Brown, Bobby Engram,

Oakland: Jeff Garcia, Greg Ellis. Lorenzo Neal
San Diego: None

2009 Predictions
Most Improved Team: Kansas City Chiefs: Its hard not to pick a team which only won two games last season. New GM, New Coach, New Quarterback, and new veterans should help this team win some ball games this year. They won't win half of their games but I think they can win 5 to 6 games in 2009.

Team on the Slide: Denver Broncos: They showed Mike Shanahan the door, they traded Jay Cutler, and it looks like Brandon Marshall could be on his way out as well. Things just don't look good for Denver fan in 2009. They very well could win just three games in 09.

Player in the Spotlight: Matt Cassell: Cassell needs to prove to Chiefs fans that he isn't a one hit wonder. Cassell had an excellent year filling in for injured quarterback Tom Brady throwing for 3,693 yards 21 TD and only 11 INT's. Now can he put up similar numbers with less talent and a shaky offensive line.

Division Winner: San Diego: The Chargers didn't do much this offseason, but they shouldn't have any problem winning this division by two or three games this season. The bigger question is will Philip Rivers take the Chargers to the next level. LT just turned 30 years old and with his injury problems the past couple years he may only have two years left in the tank so San Diego's window of winning a Super Bowl is closing rather quickly.

2009 Projected Standings
San Diego: 11-5
Kansas City: 5-11
Oakland: 4-12
Denver: 3-13

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Tribute To Ed Thomas

Many people who have followed my blog in the past know I do more criticizing of people in the sports world rather than give them praise. It is just how I operate. However today I want to talk about a man who people should look up to and model themselves after whose life was tragically taken away by a former player and student. Many people don't know this but my parents live in the state of Iowa just about 70 miles away from where Ed Thomas's lived in the town of Parkersburg. I remember the storm that ripped Parkersburg to shreds and I remember the E:60 story on how Thomas used football to uplift the spirits of a community in shambles. Forget that he has 292 wins as a head coach. Forget that he won two state titles. Forget he has four players right now playing in the NFL. Forget that he went to the 1A State playoffs in Iowa 19 times. He will be remembered for all of that sure, but its his heart people should remember. The fact is he cared more than anyone about making boys into respectable young men. In a sports state where we see the Iowa Hawkeyes have 26 arrests in 26 months because of lack of life skills being taught and probably questionable players being recruited to the school, he focused on making boys into stand up gentlemen. He taught them life lessons. Ed Thomas was a model coach. Someone who if you want to be a coach at any level you would want to be. He won over 77 percent of his games while making his boys into men. Now a days you would be lucky to have that winning percentage without having some guys who make the news for all the wrong reasons. Sure he had some bad eggs (including the man who would end up taking his life) but Thomas always gave people a second chance and pushed them to learn from their mistakes and become a better person through the experience. A town of 1800 in Iowa is all over ESPN because of the death of their head coach. That doesn't happen by accident.

Remembering Him
I want to share some of the things people have said about Ed Thomas from people who knew him best.

"We didn’t just lose a football coach. We lost an icon,” said Tom Teeple, Thomas's Barber-Des Moines Register.

“He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He really cared about every one of those players like (they) were his own kids. It’s just hard to believe that somebody would do something like this.”-Brad Meester, Jacksonville Jaguars Center-Des Moines Register

A rock is gone. A year ago, Ed Thomas reminded us of all that was good in the human spirit; the strength of community; the power of hope. Wednesday, he reminded us of the frailty of life; the senseless; the random; the tragic; the dark side that festers deep within us all.-Sean Keller, Des Moines Register Columnist.
"This is Iowa's John Lennon assassination. This is something and someone no one will ever forget."-Ken Miller, 1460 KXNO radio host in Des Moines-ESPN Story

"I wish I could give an organ. I wish there was just something I could. I had just signed a new contract he and I hadn't talked about it yet. And I just can't fathom the idea that he and I won't speak again."-Denver Broncos center Casey Wiegmann-ESPN Story

He demanded more out of me than I thought I had in me, and you know what? That's one of the things that made him such a great man-Taylor Schrage, former player-Des Moines Register.

In 37 seasons he not only he made Falcons football what it is but he made people better for just knowing him. The shoes left by Thomas are bigger than any high school, college, or even professional coach ever left. He not only won games, he won with class. He won while making his players better people. That is the mark of a great coach and a great human being. R.I. P Coach Thomas. Many will miss you. The man who took Thomas's life 24 year old Matt Becker will be on trial July 2nd.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Five Players I Think Will Be Busts In The NBA

Its NBA Draft week and the players I loved to watch in college will go to the dark side and get paid to play the game most of played since they were in elementary school. With every draft you see players taken in the first round just flat out stink in their sports. Here are some first round locks who will fall flat in the NBA.

1) Jrue Holiday-Seriously I don't understand why he left college. This kid has so much promise when he came to UCLA. The hype led to a season where he didn't average double digits yet ESPN says he is "the most complete freshman" in the draft and has been rumored to go as high as #4 to the Kings. The most points he scored in a game was 20....against Florida Atlantic. The kid better be taking classes during the summer because I honestly think he will do about what he did in college in the NBA. Be an ok player who will do good things on the defensive side of the ball but not one that is going to score in the double digits consistently and won't be a leader on the floor. I don't care that Holiday wasn't a real fit to UCLA's system. Players should be able to adjust to the offense they play for and Holiday didn't do that at all. Holidays stats-8.5 ppp 3.8 rpg 3.7 apg

2) Brandon Jennings- The player "too good for college" is gonna wish he went and played at Arizona. Jennings averaged 7.6 points in the Euroleague and the weaknesses he has including not being good in a half court game and fading away when he shoots could mean he could be a scoring bust for anyone who takes him. As for defense he is average, he is good at keeping shooters in front of him but they still can shoot over him and blow past him into the lane It will take him a few years before he maybe considered a regular starter in the NBA and won't be playing 40+ minutes much. Jennings stats-7.6 ppg 1.6 rpg 1.6 apg

3) James Johnson-The big man from Wake has some upside to him, but inconsistency will kill him in the NBA. There were stretches where you wondered if Johnson was day dreaming on the court. Needs to work on not taking bad shots, especially early in the shot clock and needs to drive to the basket instead of taking the outside shot. He can be a force inside he is a big boy that won't be pushed around to much and is a pretty good rebounder. Time will tell though if he can play inside for 82 games against the best players. My guess is he can't. Johnson stats-15 ppg 8.5 rpg

4) Jodie Meeks-All I have to ask is why. Why didn't you go back and play for a coach that has NBA coaching experience? Why didn't you go back to a program that with Meeks would have been favored to win the SEC title and could play for a national championship. He is a Ben Gordon prototype however I really don't think he will be a first round pick. If you leave early from college you go because you are going to be a first round pick and get paid millions. Meeks won't do that. He needs to work on his ball handling skills and was too soft on defense at Kentucky. Yes he can put up big numbers scoring (54 at Tennessee last year) but I think he would benefit more if he went and played one more year at Kentucky. Meeks stats-23.7 ppg 3.4 rpg 1.8 apg

5) Austin Daye-Can you say stick man? He needs to beef up or he is going to get pushed around like a pinball. He settles to much on the outside shot and needs to learn to drive the ball a little bit more to the basket if he is going to make it in the NBA. Like Johnson he needs to work on consistency shooting the basketball. Could very well fall out of the first round like Meeks.- Dayes stats-12.7 ppg 6.8 rpg

The NBA Draft can be seen June 25th at 7pm EST. Join me and wave good bye to the stars of the college seen and see them enter the dark side.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Doing The Crime Without Paying The Time

The news of Donte Stallworth being suspended from the NFL got me thinking today. If you haven't been following this closely Donte Stallworth has been in trouble for manslaughter after killing a man with his car while he was under the influence of alcohol. Stallworth if convicted could of seen 15 years in prison. He ended up getting 30 days in jail. How is it that the NFL dishes out a tougher penalty than the feds? I have to commend Roger Goodell for suspending Stallworth because do you honestly believe he will have learned his lesson after 30 days in jail? I mean Michael Vick served a longer term for killing dogs then Stallworth is going to for killing another human being. There is something really wrong about that. Unfortunately this has happened before in all major sports. Kobe Bryant just had to hand over what in his world is considered pocket change when he was in court for sexually assaulting another woman at a hotel he was staying at. We all know Adam "Pac man" Jones seems to have a problem with staying out of fights at night clubs yet he had how many second chances before finally enough is enough? But back to Stallworth, if it was you are me we would totally be in the slammer for at least a decade with probation after we got out. When Stallworth gets out he has only two years probation. Unfortunately society somehow has made these athletes play on a social playing field that is well above normal peoples level. Just cause they are in the spotlight means they get treated differently. Thanks to Roger Goodell Stallworth won't get off as easy as some of his sports colleagues in the past have. Its about time someone did something about this.